All these decades, brutality has been inflicted on us in all its ugly variants and forms. To force capitulation from us. To rope us in the stench of suffocation. We were, and are, degraded to the Orwellian Animal Farm. But the repression in body failed them to capture mind and soul from us. The flame of resistance refuses to die down. More the arrogance of power, more the loyalty in defiance. Tou teer azma, ham jigar azmayeen (try all your spears, here we stand with our bare chest). The killing fields we survived from. The 'Epidemic of Dead Eyes' we breathed through. The muzzled atmospherics we retrieved from. The enforced disappearances and wanton destructions didn't dampen our spirits. From charred dead we rose up again. To laugh on the miseries and rewrite the pledge.
But despite all odds against, we never let humanity slip from us. Brutalized we were, but brutes we turn is not in our DNA. The salt of our soil has no such matrix. That is why even the frying pan we are rolled in screams in prayer for the well-being of the Hindu pilgrims (Yatris). The killing and lynching of our co-religionists pains us to the marrow but that never surged our adrenaline to showcase our masculinity on weaker innocent. Notwithstanding the demonizing campaign against us, we kept arms open to embrace our Pandit brethren. Ours has been, and is, matar bhoomi (birth place) of tolerance and co-existence.
In this backdrop, when a brazenly shameful incident, unbecoming the glorious tradition, that symbolized our essence of life, stares right at us, we cannot but cry and grimace. The moral high that our righteous stand perches us that up suddenly yields to drooping shoulders and drawn faces; the painful retribution, perhaps. And that narrow chink opens the flood gates to weaken the embankments of our resistance. Moral legitimacy, we have to note, is the first defense of the oppressed that aggressor looks to decimate the foundation of.
What happened in the precincts of historic Jama Masjid in the midst of Lailatul Qadar the past week is ghastly, shameful and cannot be justified. Of all the forms of violence that Kashmiris have experienced in their life, the least expected was the specter of lynching. Unheard of, unwitnessed. But the mob lynching of DSP Muhammad Ayub Pandit stripped us from that halo. The precedent, though, 'integrated' us with India. We would shudder to think of it, even if, let alone a fellow Muslim, victim would be the suspected non-Muslim. That it was committed during auspicious night and at sacred place shows the lowest of low the perpetrators have plummeted down to. The valley, cringed in shock, is yet to reconcile the unbelievable. And we all condemned the heinous crime in strongest possible words. And that is where we strike different from the Hindutva saffron brigade who enjoy public lynching of Muslims and Dalits, and the worst, defend the indefensible. Let me state clearly—without holding myself hostage to the glory of sentiment—stripping naked the JK police officer, raining stones on him and goring him to death is anti humanity and anti Islamic as well. How high the provocation from the cop, how inviolable the sentiment, nothing justifies it.
That, however, is not all of the story. There is another half that completes it. But that, not surprisingly, is garbled from Indian news channels and some of our free lance activists. Ayub was beaten to death at midnight. As the news flashed, police officials, till morning next, refused to own him. If he was on duty for 'checking access control', it implies he was deputed there hours before and the police officials had complete and prior knowledge of it. But initial statement from them found them denying presence of their man in the mosque. Second, as his angry relatives also raised the question, why was the DSP sahib alone? The rank of the deceased officer demanded an escort of a dozen of security personnel. That was nowhere in sigh. Third, fully knowing the hate wave against the police at present, why was he asked to report for duty in his own locality where he could be easily identified? Fourth, why was he in civvies? The police uniform would not have made him suspicious. And perhaps would not have lost his life to frenzied mob. All this is shrouded in mystery. True the culprits need to be 'dealt sternly', but equally important is to hold those high officials accountable who played with Ayub's life. Whether he pulled up pistol at being asked to show his identity or fired on being attacked is a question for the court to nail the truth and thus judge the scale of provocation, but for us it is time to rise above prejudice and condemn the crime whether perpetrator is from the oppressor or the oppressed. But in that kind of 'dispassionate analysis', we should avoid black-tarring and slandering entire community. That unfortunately is the least consideration when the rejected and wretched lot of the society chooses the moment to defame the resistance and the leadership.
There is another dimension of the story. For most part army and other central para-military forces were tasked to deal with the militants and protestors on the streets. With JK police not coming in direct confrontation, it was spared of the public hatred. But over the past many years police was given a much wider role in counter-insurgency operations, in particular that of SOG. Naturally it makes police lose the sympathy, or at least soft corner for her it once enjoyed. The recent advisory the high command gave to its police force in which it directed them to offer Eid namaz in District police lines is a clear manifestation of the void that has menacingly grown wider between her and the people it was primarily created for the service and betterment of. It finds itself sandwiched between the gun-wielding militants and furiously fearless youth, with the question always haunting on them how long they can afford to live in isolation, cut off from native roots. Their basic function is policing different from the role military is meant for. The need of the hour is government should revisit its strategy and desist from using police as an additional tool of repression. That has 'murdered the trust' they once enjoyed.